The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has long fought to end wage discrimination. Despite the Equal Pay Act and many improvements in women's economic status over the past 40 years, wage discrimination still persists. AAUW continues to believe that pay equity-economic equity-is a simple matter of justice and strongly supports initiatives that seek to close the persistent and sizable wage gaps between men and women. The effects of pay inequity reach far. According to a 1999 study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the AFL-CIO, based on U.

S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor statistics, women who work full time earn just 74 cents for every dollar men earn. That equals $148 less each week, or $7, 696 a year. Women of color who work full time are paid even less, only 64 cents for every dollar men earn-$210 less per week and $11, 440 less per year. With a record 64 million women in the workforce, pay discrimination hurts the majority of American families. Families lose $200 billion in income annually to the wage gap-an average loss of more than $4, 000 for each working family.

In addition, wage discrimination lowers total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing women's benefits from Social Security and pension plans. Wage inequalities are not a result of women's qualifications or choices. Wage discrimination persists despite women's increased educational attainment, greater level of experience in workforce, and decreased amount of time spent out of the workforce raising children. o Education. Although the number of women attaining baccalaureate and advanced degrees now surpasses the number of men, in 1999 the median wages of female college graduates were $14, 665 less than those of male graduates. College-educated African American women earn only $1, 500 more than white male high school graduates.

o Experience. Women gain only approximately 30 cents per hour for five additional years of work experience, compared to $1. 20 for white men. o Child care. Women spend more time in the workforce than ever before.

Sixty-one percent of women with children under the age of 2 and 78 percent of mothers with school-age children remain in the workforce. Time spent out of the workforce is not enough to account for the persistent wage gap that women experience.